Inflation makes comparing contract values over different eras sort of silly.
Back in 1987, for example, Jim Kelly made $1.1 million – which was the most in the NFL at the time. Wide receiver Marcus Easley is scheduled to make $1.1 million in base salary for the Buffalo Bills in 2017.
But whenever a player earns the distinction of becoming “the highest-paid player in team history,” there is added significance, even if it’s somewhat symbolic. In the case of both the Bills and Sabres, those players are currently on the roster – and neither is coming close to the lofty title.
Marcell Dareus’ six-year contract extension, signed before the 2015 season and the biggest in Bills history, carries a potential value of $100 million. Since he signed it, Dareus has almost as many games missed because of suspensions (five) as he does sacks (5.5).
The Sabres’ Ryan O’Reilly signed a seven-year, $52.5 million contract before the 2015-16. He currently ranks tied for 59th in NHL scoring, with 44 points. Last year, he finished tied for 41st.
Both O’Reilly and Dareus are good players. But has anyone ever watched them and thought, “Wow, no wonder he’s the top-paid player in franchise history?” At those salaries, "good" simply isn't good enough. They need to be great.